What possesses a person to offer to organise Maastricht’s largest student event in the middle of a pandemic? “We are all optimistic,” chairperson Iris Vloet grins. “Maybe even a little naive,” vice chairman Sjors Franssen adds. “I was convinced that it could well be a huge party this year.” “Honestly, when I signed up, I didn’t even think about us still dealing with a pandemic at this moment,” Judith Marijne, logistic manager, confesses.
WGI changed board members in November 2020. “Immediately after that weekend, stricter measures were enforced and lockdown started,” says Franssen. The tone was set. This whole year the group has worked with four scenarios: from a completely digital INKOM to as normal an event as possible. It looked gloomy for a long time: more and more infections and so also new measures. “There came a point when we stopped looking at the press conferences,” says Vloet. “It offered so little perspective.”
Their own group process was different too. Normally, the WGI goes off to the countryside for a week in autumn to develop their vision. That didn’t happen, everything was closed. “So, it took us 3 to 4 times as long and we had to adapt quite often,” says Vloet. Their flexibility was tested, treasurer Kirsten Geurtz nods. “It was a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Working from home and making do with what they had. “We had ‘dates’, then we met up 1 on 1 with each other,” says Vloet. “When you were allowed to invite people into your home again, we had dinner together. I think it made a big difference that we all got on with each other easily – even via Zoom, communication was easy.” They became really close, despite the obstacles.
Holding your breath
Then it turned 2021; good news starts to trickle in. The vaccination campaign gets going, the number of infections decreases. “That 1 per cent chance of the best scenario being possible, became bigger and bigger,” says Franssen. “Then things just took off,” says secretary Doris de Kok. “The curfew was cancelled, bars and restaurants reopened.” During the press conference of 18 June, the group held its breath when the subject of ‘events’ was discussed.
There is not much time to celebrate, a lot still has to be done. “Fortunately, we have a lot of help – also from the former WGIs,” says Vloet. Marijne is responsible for booking all the artists. “In the beginning, everyone was just waiting, but now they too are enthusiastic. Just as well that they usually work with Dutch artists, so we are not facing travel restrictions.”
Another point on the agenda is test, recovery, and vaccination proof. Participants will have to show these for the large parties, where you then don’t need to maintain a distance. “We still have to research how that will exactly work,” says Vloet. Most likely, it will be with the CoronaCheck-app that people will have to scan. “That is not up to us. The university – fortunately – has taken that off our hands.”
It definitely wasn’t an ordinary year, is there anything that can still go wrong? “That everything shuts down again,” says De Kok. “Or that it can go ahead, but that it rains the entire week,” says Geurtz with a look of horror. “Or that one of us tests positive for COVID-19 and we all have to quarantine,” Marijne adds to the mix. Everyone spontaneously starts to knock on the table warding off misfortune. Vloet: “On the other hand, how much bad luck can one have?.”